Malkia Strikers spike their way to Tokyo Olympics
Malkia Strikers reigned supreme yesterday in Yaoundé, Cameroon by thrashing Nigeria 3-0 to secure the lone African ticket to Tokyo Olympics Games set for July.
The Paul Bitok-coached team needed to beat Nigeria to be 100 percent certain of qualifying for Tokyo Olympics Games that is set to start on July 24 – August 9 after having seen off arch-rivals Cameroon on Tuesday night.
The squad led by veteran Mercy Moim and dependable left attacker Sharon Chepchumba fired attacks to ensure Kenya got the straight-sets victory of 25-15, 25-21, 25-12 against the Nigerians.
After sweeping Nigeria aside, Kenya completed the clean sweep at the championship that saw them defeat Egypt 3-1, whip Botswana 3-0 before winning the five-set thriller against hosts Cameroon 3-2, a match which was dubbed ‘decisive.’
Kenya started the match against Nigeria yesterday on a high leading the West African 11-2 before winning the first set 25-15.
On restart the Kenyan girls picked the game from where they left, leading 4-1 before the Nigerians stepped up to tie the scores at 5-5. Nigeria then stubbornly pushed the Kenyans throughout the set before eventually falling to the African Games champions 25-21.
In the third set, Kenya raced to a 14-7 lead against the Nigerians coached by Samuel Ajayi before emerging victorious 25- 12.
A total of five teams contested the women’s qualifications including hosts Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Botswana, and Nigeria.
Bitok took over Malkia Strikers last year after 10 years of coaching in Rwanda and has since won the African Games title and made sure Kenya returned to the Olympic Games after a 16-year absence and also won one match at the FIVB World Cup in Japan.
Kenya last featured at the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympic Games where they finished 11th on both events but failed to qualify for the Games in 2008 (Beijing), 2012 (London) and 2016 (Rio) events.
After participating at 2008, 2012, 2016 Olympic qualifiers unsuccessfully, Moim, the senior-most player alongside Jane Wacu (pictured) will finally have a chance at the Olympics.
Other members of the team that played in Cameroon were setter Joy Luseneka, left attackers Leonida Kasaya, Sharon Chepchumba, Noel Murambi; centre players Edith Wisa, Joan Chelagat, Gladys Ekaru; right attackers Violet Makuto, Emmaculate Chemutai, Jemimah Siangu, and liberos Agripina Kundu and Elizabeth Wanyama.
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